|Divine Rank||Debatable (see below)|
|Pantheon||Openly Archdevils; Ancient Brethren secretly|
|Domains||4E: Knowledge, Torment, Tyranny
5E: Knowledge, Order, Trickery
PF: Evil, Fire, Law, Magic, Trickery
|Home Plane||The Nine Hells of Baator (currently imprisoned), the primordial soup of creation (former)|
|Worshippers||Slavers, tyrants, bureaucrats, Satanists|
|Favoured Weapon||Mace (shaped after his Ruby Rod)|
Asmodeus is THE evil god AND an Archdevil in Dungeons & Dragons. He is the absolute ruler of the Nine Hells, stationed squarely in its infernal core of Nessus. His daughter Glasya is one of the commanders in charge of a "lower" level.
Asmodeus was part of the Creation War. After defeating the Primordials, the evil gods set out to kill each other over who would take over the Universe while the good and neutral ones tried to stop them. Asmodeus was able to get a large number of angels to side with him and led a rebellion against the heavens. He was struck down and landed on Baator, which originally had seven Hells but he made two more just for shits and giggles. There he set up his kingdom of hate.
Asmodeus takes on the form of a boring, run-of-the-mill Halloween devil. Oh, except for being 13 feet tall. He has impossibly high charisma and can only really be damaged with Holy items. Typically, he's a patient schemer who can wait epochs for his plans to resolve, but during the rare times he doesn't use stars forming and dying to time himself, he uses guile rather than force... usually. His Ruby Rod has a lot of at-will spells that he can use, and he can alter lesser beings. ...Yes. It's called the Ruby Rod. The Ruby Rod of Asmodeus. It's been around since forever, and, yes, it looks exactly how you think it looks. Some of his followers even carry similar Ruby Rods, but they are far inferior in length, girth, and potency to his.
This has been an obvious dick joke. We now return you to your original article already in progress.
The book Guide to Hell gave us a completely new view of Asmodeus. At the dawn of creation, beings of Law began to rise up from the primordial soup. The mightiest of these were Ahriman and Jazirian. Jazirian was a feathered and winged serpent, while Ahriman was scaled and forked of tongue. They bit down onto each other's tails and together began to create Law in the chaos. The first thing that they created was the Unity of Rings: everything keeps happening over and over again. This place, the first ring, became known as the Outlands. When it was defined the other planes fell in around it, thus creating the Outer Planes.
Next up after this was to honor their three aspects: Law, Good and Evil. From this came the Rule of Three, stressing the importance of the number three in all things. Finally there needed to be a third rule: the Center of the Universe. This is where it started to go wrong: while the Outlands would have been the obvious choice, Jazirian pushed for heaven, while Ahriman pushed for hell. The two began to pull and struggle at and with one another, until they eventually tore each other apart. Jazirian flew up to the heavens: each drop of blood she spilled from her severed tail tip turned into a fully-formed couatl. The wingless Ahriman though began to fall: he in fact fell so hard that upon hitting the seventh layer of hell, he fell through and in his crash created two new layers. Where his blood hit the ground, Pit Fiends sprung up. Ahriman got stuck in his pit, unable to leave.
In their struggle the two serpents had lost much of their power, and began to nurse themselves back to health. In this time, the other gods overtook them, banded together and began to colonize the planes. So, Ahriman began to hatch a new plot. He took the guise of Asmodeus, a near-power just short of being a god: the arch-devil and the lord of evil. But he is more than that: more potent than even the gods and not dependent on the adoration of mortals. He is trying to get into power by ways of three plans: the Blood War, the Politics of Nobility, and Armageddon.
Asmodeus fakes that the Blood War is of great importance to him: he sees it as little more than a series of skirmishes who turned into a full-blown war. But by staying at war with the Tanar'ri he makes the upper powers think that if one of them were to win, they would flood out to the rest of the planes and create a massive war that would end all life. Thus, they continue to let the fiends fight amongst themselves. The second plan, the Politics of Nobility is more or less the same thing but internal: by keeping the devils occupied with struggling with one another they won't have the resources to fight Asmodeus and his plots.
The third one is a far more sinister plot. Those who die without believing in anything. Since only the believers can go to an afterlife, those who do not believe are instead send elsewhere, namely Nessus. But instead of becoming petitioners here and starting out as Lemures, they become chow for Asmodeus. The process of being eaten by a primordial serpent takes centuries, during which the petitioners remain fully aware as they are devoured, feeling nothing but excruciating pain for centuries. Being destroyed in such a way completley undoes the soul in question and cannot be brought back in any way. Every soul devoured this way heals Ahriman's wounds a bit more, and when he has fully healed Ahriman will break free of his prison and cast the multiverse back into the primordial chaos it came from. Nobody, not even Jazirian would be able to stop him, and he would remake the universe to his liking. And this is a Bad Thing.
In 3.5 Asmodeus got a new backstory and became a magnificent bastard of massive proportions. In the beginning there were only the Obyriths and their spawn the Tanar'ri, but the newborn universe didn't like this and so spat out good-aligned beings of Order™ to fight them. Asmodeus was one of these, and decided that to truly defeat the demons, they would have to know them, and that in order to do that, they would have to become like them. Thus he became the first Lawful Evil being (don't ask us how Chaotic Good came to be). In the ancient days the Gods were troubled by mortals because they would do bad things over and over again. Asmodeus, one of the smartest people ever, pointed out it was because there were no repercussions for doing so, and so invented "Punishment" which took the form of a rod with which to strike the guilty. The Gods liked the idea and so Asmodeus and his followers went about punishing mortals that did wrong all over the heavenly realms. Well the Gods of Good that they served got disturbed by this; sure there were results and mortals were being less of a collection of dicks because of it, but they didn't like evil souls being tortured in their herb gardens. Asmodeus had a solution. He wrote up a giant contract that would make him and his followers separate from the Gods, give him his own realm (a little one-layerer called Baator), and he and his followers would get energy from those they punish, leaving the Gods free from having to manage the thing. It was such a good idea that all the Gods signed it. When Asmodeus and his followers arrived at the dirt hovel plane after imprisoning its former ruler Zargon, they thought he had gone mad. Then he explained the rest of his plan.
A few millennia later, the Gods started to notice something was up with the number of souls they were getting. Investigating, they found that Asmodeus had been a productive bastard. 9 layers of hellscape, legions of devils, and innumerable tortured evil souls. Except some of those souls had been bought or corrupted by Asmodeus and his followers.
St. Cuthbert the God of Retribution drew forth his mace and shouted "You fiend! You are only supposed to punish the wicked, not tempt them into acts of evil!" Asmodeus smiled, held out the contract alongside a novelty oversized magnifying glass, and said (verbatim) "Read the fine print."
In this edition we see why Asmodeus re-installed Levistus to his former position as leader of the 5th layer of hell without freeing from his iceberg prison and more importantly, not providing the traditional promotion makeover. That being
- Everyone would scratch their heads about Levistus having a high ranking job, you know, with the whole 'killing the leader's true waifu' thing, instead of scratching their heads about a Hag (and not a devil) being the ruler of Malbolge.
- Since Levistus having the gig of leader of 5th layer was just a distraction, he wasn't granted the promotion upgrade. The nine hells have better use for divine energy than that. Also why let a treacherous bastard out of the ice? And of course maintaining the punishments would attract attention to the strange situation that Levistus was in.
Why was the ruler of Malbolge a hag? To have a disposable regent keeping a seat warm for ruling a layer of hell until he thought his daughter would handle the job right.
Talking about Asmodeus in 4e gets complicated, for a very simple reason: there are two of him in that edition. One is native to the Nentir Vale setting, the "core" of 4e, who is functionally a brand new individual in terms of lore, and the other is native to the Forgotten Realms, and is supposed to be the same one who's been plaguing the Realms from the very beginning of D&D, resulting in the need to "build on from" his lore from at least 3rd edition.
The Asmodeus of the Nentir Vale was once the most powerful archangel of a goodly god, but during the Dawn War, he became convinced that his master was holding back the forces of the gods with his "virtuousness" and that harsher, more ruthless behavior was required to win. This may have something to do with his claiming a shard of the Seed of Evil from the Abyss, something that also sparked the Blood War of the World Axis. He spread his beliefs amongst his fellow angels like a poison, swaying them until they were able to rise up en masse and murder their former master. So thoroughly did Asmodeus obliterate even the memory of his former master that only the fact of his prior existence remains in the world today, resulting in this god being called only "He Who Was". Filled with paranoia that if his old master's name is ever rediscovered, the god could be brought back, Asmodeus stops at nothing to scour for any clues he might have missed.
Did this Asmodeus get what he wanted? Well... yes, and no. It is hinted his taking charge of his old master's troops actually did help boost the gods in their war effort, and he was accepted amongst the gods... right up until they realized his treacherous rat-bastadry and ambition wasn't sated yet, at which point they backed off. Plus, He Who Was cursed Asmodeus and all his followers as he died, transforming Baator into the current hellhole that it is, warping them into their present devilish forms, and forcibly binding them in Baator as an inescapable prison until Asmodeus figured out a loophole or two.
Incidentally, this is what defines the devils of the Nentir Vale setting; whilst any angel can serve an evil god and still be considered an angel, devils are fallen angels, marked by a divine curse for their treachery and deicide.
As a god, Nentir Vale Asmodeus has the portfolio of Power, Domination and Tyranny, and his associated Cleric Domains in "Divine Power" are Civilization and Tyranny. His three commandments are:
- Seek power over others.
- Repay evil with evil, and exploit the kindness of others.
- Show neither pity nor compassion for those caught underfoot on your rise to power; the weak do not deserve compassion.
Aside from killing He Who Was and creating the devils, and possibly orphaning humanity - some believe He Who Was used to be humanity's patron god, but then again, others claim that humanity's patron was a different god who was murdered by Zehir - the most notable influence that Asmodeus has in the Nentir Vale is being the creator of the tieflings. Long story short, the nobles of the waning human empire of Bael Turath made diabolic pacts with Asmodeus for the survival of their empire, transforming them all irrevocably into the first tieflings. Even though Bael Turath fell in a mutual-kill with the empire of Arkhosia, scattering tieflings and dragonborn alike across the world and breeding a strong distaste for their former master in many tieflings, the heirs to Bael Turath are still stereotyped as Asmodeans by default in the present.
As for the Asmodeus of the Forgotten Realms...
Basically, this version profited hugely from the Spellplague, seizing advantage of the death of Mystra to murder & consume one of her divine underlings, Azuth. This not only propelled him to godhood, but allowed him to tap into the Spellplague just long enough to reshape the very structure of the planes themselves, forcing the World Tree into the World Axis and decisively ending the distraction of the Blood War. At least, he claims reshaping the multiverse was his doing; he may just be lying. The lord of all devils does that, you know.
Also, he supposedly used his new power to "claim" all of the tieflings in the Realms, mutating them into their 4e canon forms as a side-effect of marking them.
Like in 4ed Asmodeus is a God, though rather than a Devil who worked his way up, he was either a God from the start, or one of the oldest ascended Outsiders, and is one of the biggest players among the Gods. The Book of the Damned claims him to be one of a pair of primordial first gods with his brother Ihys, until the two had a falling out on the matter of law vs chaos, gathered allies among younger beings, and in the first act of deific treachery, Ihys was slain by Asmodeus. He then gathered his celestial followers and marched them to Hell, a far more empty place back then, and took it over, sculpting one of his Archdevils, Mephistopheles, out of the plane itself in his image. The 'primordial first gods' story could be BS, other accounts paint him as an ascended Celestial, but he's old enough regardless that only the later conflict and Hell parts can be confirmed by the other Gods.
As the god of tyranny, hierarchy, and order, he places law as paramount and is surprisingly easy to deal with for an evil, at least if you yourself are a god. Even the younger and more hot-head good gods have consulted him on occasion. Most famously, when Rovagug the Rough Beast went to war with all the other gods, the Empyreal Lord Sarenrae forced it into a prison in the center of Golarion and Asmodeus provided the key, locking it away hopefully forever, but making his position to the Gods indispensable. Aside from typical evil nuts, his worshipers include lawyers and other legal professionals.
Asmodeus believes the entire multiverse will move past this whole 'free will' thing and fall under his tyranny eventually, but as such an ancient being he is willing to be supremely patient about it, make deals with everyone, and wait for the inevitable.
He's sexist, but primarily regarding outsiders as what a damned mortal soul looked like in life has no effect on what devil it can become. Unlike outsiders such as Angels, who have male and female individuals of the same type, male and female devils are effectively separate species, or at least life phases. Erinyes, the most common female devil, are factually one of the weaker types of devils.
In Fifth Edition, things are hazy. The forced re-organization of the Planes back into the old Great Wheel means that the Blood War restarted without Asmodeus wanting it to, but he's technically still a true God. Azuth, the god he ate, is now back as well, and Azzy is now weaker for it. In addition, he has now been noted to have in fact been controlling the cults of several other Archdevils all along, including his lesser rival and Fallen Angel, Mephistopheles. His raw power has diminished, but he has a new plot, one which is actually working. He has started to open legit churches in Toril, and possibly other worlds. By explaining in clear detail to sinners that they will be tortured for all eternity if they're captured by any form of fiend (including Mezzoloths or worse, Tana'ri) or if they go to the Hells without some form of leg up, they just tell the sinners outright that worshiping Asmodeus will let them start partway up the fiendish hierarchy in Petitioner form... which is absolutely true. That annoys the Good churches to no end because it's enough to get some desperate old sinners to throw their lot in with Asmodeus right away. To others who aren't ready to sell themselves to him, the churches instead offer services to people who want to conceal things, apologize for their lesser crimes but can't do it elsewhere, or otherwise cover up sins, which may actually absolve those sinners under some circumstances... or just give them a sense that they can escape all their problems through prayer, and thus encourage them to misbehave more. Asmodeus has actually been able to get several Waterdhavian nobles to buy his Holy Symbols and wear them around, which even fiends which became Gods before he did like Orcus never managed.
That said, he's still nowhere near as strong as he was when Mystra was dead and Azuth was in his belly, and the fact that he now has to defend against attacks from every direction thanks to the planar shifts (from Carceri not so much, but from the Abyss, you bet) means he's far less free to act covertly, even if his open worship is drawing in souls at a shocking rate. For now, he's collecting cards to his hand, and only time or a new edition will tell what he does next.
In The Trial of Asmodeus (a bit of "Paradise Lost"-esque fluff), angels put out a warrant for Azzy's arrest and he's offended. So, he writes up a contract that says "you're lawful good, I'm lawful evil, let's take it up with a being of Pure Law, Primus, leader of the modrons," and the angels (after reading the fine print) sign the contract. When they went before Primus, Asmodeus defended himself with four points:
1. He and his devils and swayed mortals towards evil, yes, but they never violated a contract and it was always a clear deal. No fine print here.
2. The souls collected go on to serve to beat back the demonic legions of the Abyss in the Blood War.
3. Asmodeus was following the laws of the Nine Hells in collecting souls.
4. Mortals who refused a devil's offer were left alone.
Primus then heard the angels' testimony. Weeks went by and Primus's patience wore thin (yes, the incarnation of Lawful Stupid's patience wore thin) and he said only a few more angels would be allowed to speak. The angels fought over who would be allowed to speak; Asmodeus smiled.
Primus failed to deliver a definitive verdict, but he did give Asmodeus the Ruby Rod. The Ruby Rod guarantees Azzy's adherence to the law, grants his devils the ability to make deals for souls, and punishes any devil who breaks a deal.
Yeah, anyone lawful evil basically. There are a few who worship other beings, but most of them go to this guy. He's very convincing. They're all gonna go to Hell. And while he might promise you something nice once you get there, read the fine print. It ain't worth it.
|The Deities of Forgotten Realms|
|Good||Ilmater - Nobanion
Torm - Tyr
|Chauntea - Deneir - Eldath - Enlil
Gwaeron Windstrom - Lathander
Mielikki - Milil - Mystra - Shiallia
|Lliira - Lurue - Selûne - Sharess |
Sune - Tymora - Valkur
|Neutral||Azuth - Helm - Hoar
Jergal - Kelemvor
Red Knight - Savras
Siamorphe - Ulutiu
|Akadi - Ao - Auppenser - Gond
Grumbar - Istishia - Karsus
Kossuth - Oghma - Silvanus
Tempus - Ubtao - Waukeen
|Finder Wyvernspur - Ibrandul - Leira |
Mask - Shaundakul - Uthgar
|Evil||Asmodeus - Bane
Gargauth - Gilgeam
Iyachtu Xvim - Loviatar
|Auril - Bhaal - Myrkul
Shar - Velsharoon
|Beshaba - Cyric - Garagos |
Malar - Moander - Talona
Talos - Umberlee
|The deities of 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons|
Haramathur - Moradin
|Amoth - Lakal
Nusemnee - Pelor
|Avandra - Corellon |
|Neutral||Erathis - Raven Queen
|Aurom - Io - Ioun
Kord - Laeris
Bane - Tiamat
|Nerull - Torog - Vecna||Gruumsh - Khala - Lolth |
Tharizdun - Zehir
|The Deities of Exandria|
|Good||Bahamut - Moradin
Pelor - Raei
|Avandra - Corellon |
|Ioun - The Luxon
|Ceratos - Kord |
Quajath - The Traveler
|Evil||Asmodeus - Bane
Desirat - Tiamat
|Arms of the Betrayers
The Hag Mother
Torog - Uk'otoa
Vecna - Vesh
|Gruumsh - Lolth |
Tharizdun - Zehir
|The Archdukes of Hell|
|Avernus||Bel or Zariel|